TEDx Rapid City is back for its third year on Wednesday, June 28th. The theme for this year’s offering is ‘Connected, ’ and the all-day event will be held at the Performing Arts Center in downtown Rapid.
‘TED’ stands for Technology Entertainment and Design and the annual TED conferences began in 1984 as a nonprofit symposium, devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short but powerful talks. Each TED Talk runs 18 minutes or less and covers pretty much every topic you can think of, from global issues to business innovation to scientific hypotheses.
TED presents itself as a global community, which practices the power of ideas and how they can be understood and implemented. Every year the TED conference brings together the best and brightest and most interesting and thoughtful speakers from all over the word. Past TED speakers have included author Brene Brown, illusionist David Blaine, former President Bill Clinton, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, physicist Stephen Hawking and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The talks are intended to foster understanding and spark conversations.
In addition to the annual TED conference, there are also thousands of independently-produced TEDx events all over the world each year. A team of folks from Rapid City worked hard and successfully brought TEDx to our region first in June 2015.
The theme for that first event was ‘Re-Imagine Innovation, ” and this writer was honored to serve on the planning committee as the Co-Director of Media and Communications. In that capacity, I helped oversee all social media for the event, including the day of and also helped select the (nine) chosen speakers.
We hosted the first event at the Dahl Arts Center in downtown Rapid City with a kick-off reception for our speakers at the School of Mines and Technology. Each speaker was recorded, and their TEDx Talks were uploaded later that summer to Youtube.
Talks that the first year ranged from issues of Women in Business to the Federal Budget, from nuclear fission to the Thunder Valley Community Development Center at Pine Ridge. It was a great kick-off event, and very well received.
When TEDx Rapid City 2016 was announced, I submitted a proposal for a Talk and, a few weeks later, was accepted. It was a thrill of a lifetime, writing and preparing my Talk (about the power of stories). That year TEDx provided each speaker with a Dale Carnegie-trained coach, Michael Howard, to help us develop our presentations and hone our speaking skills.
Our theme last year was ‘Moments of Impact, ’ and through my coach, I was able to adjust my talk around the tipping point of my talk. Michael also helped me understand the power of the beginning of a story and I had completely reworked the introduction.
My biggest challenge was learning to memorize my talk! Even when you’ve written your own dialogue, and it’s something particularly meaningful to you, the human brain isn’t always meant to retain a script, word for word. I researched several ideas to help learn how to memorize, but I ultimately found that the best way was walking and talking.
Each evening I would go for a 45-minute walk around my neighborhood. It was late May, early June and temperatures were comfortable. As I walked down my street and up the next, I just talked. Out loud! I didn’t care if anyone around me could hear me (or what they might think). I just began at the beginning and continued my presentation as well as I could remember. The first few days, I forgot whole paragraphs, and when I returned from my walk, I would look back over my script and see what had been missed.
But after a week I only forgot sentences. And after another week, only one or two of them at best. By the end, I remembered everything.
And then the big day arrived. Needless to say, I had told every person I had ever met in my life that I was giving a TEDx Talk. I knew a few people who were going to be in the audience, including those I had served with on the TEDx Rapid City committee the previous year.
It turns out that I was the next-to-last speaker that day. I was able to sit and relax during the first half of the day, enjoying conversation with my fellow speakers and making new connections.
Last year’s speakers included talks on fetal alcohol syndrome, on the use of STEM in the Lakota community, on suicide prevention and on the dark sky movement to improve light pollution. There was also a fellow writer among the speakers, and our two Talks proved to be complimentary bookends to each other.
As it got close to my time to speak, I did develop a case of the jitters. It seems like the longer it took to make it onto the stage, the more those butterflies in my stomach began to expand! But all it took was stepping out onto the stage, looking into the audience and beginning my talk, to make those butterflies slow their roll.
I was proud and honored to speak about something that I am so passionate about – building connections through sharing our personal stories – and I especially enjoyed meeting and getting to know the other speakers who took the stage before and after me.
This year I’ll be attending the TEDx Rapid City conference again but as a volunteer. I’ll be helping navigate the experience for the attendees this year, on Wednesday, June 28th. This year we’re at the Performing Arts Center (a larger space than the Dahl) and will conclude with a reception at the new Hay Camp location just up the street.
I know one of the speakers at this year’s conference, which will include a few more Talks than last year. I know many TED Talkers go on to careers as public speakers, but for this gal, it just meant everything to give that one talk that wasn’t just what I know but what I believe. My Talk was exactly the topic that I was hoping would spark conversation. I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s crop of great TED Talkers will be giving here in Rapid City and will post an update, after the event!
If you’re interested in attending TEDx Rapid City, tickets are still available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tedxrapidcity-2017-tickets-33311651045